Interview with Chiron
The Dialogues of Chiron
Shmoop scholars recently found a treasure trove buried in a cave on the Mount Pelion. It seems that Chiron's assistants kept a consistent record of all of the master teacher's lessons. Many of the tablets have been damaged over time, but we managed to salvage the following revealing session with young Achilles and Patroclus.
Chiron: Now if you'll look at the map here, you'll notice the Black Sea. I'm sure you'll remember from yesterday's history lesson that my former student, Jason, once sailed there to retrieve the legendary Golden—
Patroclus: Stop it!
Achilles: I didn't do anything.
Patroclus: He's poking me, Mr. C.
Achilles: Did not.
Patroclus: Did too.
Chiron: Enough... I'll thank you both to pay attention.
Achilles: Come on, Mr. C. Geography is so lame.
Patroclus: Stop it, Achilles.
Achilles: We want to go play war.
Chiron: One day, you'll wish you'd never heard the word "war."
Patroclus: What do you mean, Mr. C?
Achilles: Was that a prophecy?
Chiron: Let's just say I've seen some disturbing things in the stars of late.
Patroclus: Is there a war coming?
Chiron: There's always a war coming, my boy. You don't have to be gifted in prophecy to know that.
Achilles: I can't wait.
Chiron: Perhaps you should consider your eagerness in more depth.
Achilles: I'm gonna be a warrior when I grow up. I'll be totally bored if there's not a war going on.
Patroclus: Are we going to die in the war, Mr. Chiron? Is that what you saw in the stars?
Chiron: I cannot tell you either way. Telling a man the manner in which he will die is one of cruelest things that a seer can do.
Achilles: Well, I'm going to war, whether or not I'll die.
Chiron: Why is it that life is so much more precious to the old than to the young? Hmm, maybe because we ancient ones have so much less life left before us.
Achilles: Are you saying that you're going to die?
Patroclus: But you're like the best doctor ever.
Achilles: Yeah, and you're immortal. How can you possibly die?
Chiron: There are some afflictions without a cure. Even immortals sometimes die.
Achilles: You've seen it?
Chiron: How do you think I know how cruel it is to be aware of the manner of one's own death?
Chiron: No need to be solemn, lads. After I die, I will become one with the stars I love. Sometimes the Fates are kind.
Achilles: But if you know your fate, can't you avoid it?
Chiron: Don't you remember the story of Oedipus?
Achilles: Talk about depressing.
Chiron: The three sisters of Fate bind us with unbreakable threads.
Achilles: We're all trapped?
Achilles: I don't wanna be trapped!
Chiron: Listen to me, lads. No man was ever imprisoned who decided he was free. I know the way in which I will die. I know I can't avoid it. I know the confines of my cell. Instead of banging my hooves against its walls, however, I fill it with all that I find beautiful. Knowledge, learning, and the passing on of those things. Do you understand?
Achilles/Patroclus: Yes, Mr. C.
Chiron: Very well, then. Kronos' beard, you rascals have driven us very far off course. Now, where were we?... ahhh, yes geography. As you see here on the map, on the eastern edge of the Black Sea lies Colchis, the land of the Golden Fleece. Jason traveled there aboard the Argo with the greatest assemblage of heroes—
Achilles: What's that place over there?
Chiron: We're not learning about that area of the world today.
Achilles: I was just wondering.
Chiron: What makes you ask about that place?
Achilles: My eye was just drawn to it, I guess.
Patroclus: It's a city, right? That's what that little dot means.
Chiron: Yes, it's a city.
Achilles: What's its name?
Chiron: Troy. It's a city named Troy…